A powerful fight can be waged to insure the safety of all life when labor and environmentalists work together to make big business clean up the workplace and the world outside of it.
This was the conclusion of a promising dialogue between labor and environmentalists initiated at an October 30th forum at the Seattle Labor Temple. The enthusiastic audience answered the question “Jobs or the Environment: Must We Choose?” with a resounding “NO — we must have BOTH!”
Dennis Bader, speaking for the antinuclear Crabshell Alliance, described the history of nuclear power development and the serious hazards it creates for the populace. He presented the case for cheaper, safer, alternative energy sources and detailed the insidious collusion between government and business in developing nuclear power for military purposes and high commercial profits.
Tom Burkholder, International Representative for the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, demonstrated why his union is in the forefront of battles for safe jobs. Pointing to jobs in other industries that are equally as deadly as nuclear plants, Burkholder said that environmentalists must seriously consider the effect on the lives of nuclear workers if their plants were shut down but the murderous working conditions of American industry were not changed.
An exciting and wide-ranging discussion between speakers and audience concluded with agreement that the labor and environmental movements share a common enemy — big corporations — which hold the threat of job loss and plant closures over the heads of workers who want safety measures. Big Business was denounced for slandering environmentalists as “back-to-Nature nostalgics who stand in the way of progress.”
The forum was presented by the Coalition for Protective Legislation, an organization of rank-and-file unionists and community activists campaigning for job safety protections and against mandatory overtime.